The commissioner furious to limit access to the pharmacy to the military

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Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) – Montana State Auditor and Insurance Commissioner Troy Downing issued a scathing letter Wednesday to the U.S. Department of Defense and TRICARE dramatically reducing the number of in-network pharmacies in Montana.

KGVO News has contacted Commissioner Downing for more details on the action that could significantly reduce veterans’ access to the prescriptions they need.

“Health insurance that is available to active duty military personnel who are part of the National Guard is under TRICARE,” Downing said. “TRICARE uses a Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) called Express Scripts that just announced it is removing up to 15,000 independent pharmacies from its program.”

Downing said this reduction in service will significantly reduce the opportunities for Montana veterans to get the health care they have earned through their military service.

“Particularly in a rural state like Montana, this is going to have devastating effects on the easy ability of our active duty National Guard and our retirees to get medicine,” he said. “This is especially true for emergings when you need something right away, not something you can get by mail order or some other mechanism.”

Downing said the cut in service is just days before veterans have a chance to find other options.

“So it comes into effect on October 24,” he said. “So this has just unfolded at this time, and we are extremely concerned about the effect this is going to have on our military. Basically, we break promises. We say they cannot use their local independent pharmacies. And as you know, not everyone in all of Montana has a CVS in their backyard. So it’s going to be a really difficult situation.

Downing said if the program was run by the state and under the authority of the Montana legislature, his office could help find a solution.

“If it was anything other than a federal program, or if it was a PBM or a health plan that worked in the state of Montana, we wouldn’t have it. allowed,” he said. “Limiting this choice to those people who serve our country is first and foremost unpatriotic. But in terms of what we do as an agency, we wouldn’t approve of that as an adequate network. In other words, we would not endorse this program if you are this PBM or this health plan. If you don’t have enough local access, it probably wouldn’t have been approved under a state program.

You can read Downing’s letter to President Joe Biden by clicking here.

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